Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine goes down tomorrow night at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas and will feature newly-crowned Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold attempting to make the first defense of his title against wily veteran and debuting middleweight Keith Jardine.
Luke Rockhold vs. Keith Jardine
Strikeforce’s newly crowned middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold, will attempt to make the first defense of his belt tomorrow night in Las Vegas against wily veteran and debuting 185’er Keith Jardine.
Over his 8-1 career, the 27-year-old Rockhold has shown himself to be proficient both standing and on the ground. A well-conditioned fighter, as was evidenced in his title-nabbing performance against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza last September, Rockhold is comfortable and effective fighting from most any position, including both the Southpaw and orthodox striking stances. A brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the American Kickboxing Academy product has earned most of his career victories by submission (and most of those by rear naked choke), but is a potently technical striker as well, with a varied assault utilizing all limbs.
Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine is a traveled veteran at this point in his career, having competed in near thirty contests, some against the best fighters and on the biggest stage in the world. Perhaps best described as awkward but effective, Jardine favors the striking game, but has showed able grappling throughout his career and especially in his most recent performance against Gegard Mousasi, in which he stayed competitive largely because of his wrestling. Though he’s widely being written off against the young buck in Rockhold, Jardine has been cast as a massive dog before and pulled off the upset – think Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell, Brandon Vera and, to a lesser extent, Gegard Mousasi.
Mark: Rockhold is up against a tough test, but one he should pass. Jardine can make it an ugly fight for anyone, but he’s not just battling a surging young fighter entering his prime, he’s going up against a big weight cut, dropping to middleweight for the first time. It might be ugly, but I’m going with Rockhold via unanimous decision
Dana: This is a major make-or-break fight for Strikeforce I feel, as they need Rockhold to become a big star to help them grow for the future. Rockhold has a tremendous opportunity with this being a free preview weekend for Showtime, so I expect him to put on a show. Jardine is tough, but this is Rockhold’s time to shine. Rockhold via third round TKO